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This article was published on August 10, 2011

The best places to find artistic inspiration online

The best places to find artistic inspiration online
Sherilynn Macale
Story by

Sherilynn Macale

Sherilynn "Cheri" Macale is based in San Francisco, CA. You'll probably find her tucked away in her apartment blogging, playing video games, Sherilynn "Cheri" Macale is based in San Francisco, CA. You'll probably find her tucked away in her apartment blogging, playing video games, or immersing herself in geek culture. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Google+

Every digital artist has been there. The tip of your pen stylus is hovering over your tablet while each stroke is hastily followed by the “undo” command.  The roaring fire of passion and inspiration you once had has died down to a smokey stack of disinterest in your creative efforts.

In an attempt to spark the familiar flame of innovation, you find yourself Googling keywords like “cool artwork” or “inspiring designs”. Sadly, these desperate attempts to revive your creative juices yield regurgitated and over-promoted results that fall just short of your expectations.

If you find yourself desperately trying to get past that creative road block, look no further: I’ve successfully reached out to our community and have managed to compile a list of online resources that will help get you back to being productive. By reader suggestion, here are your favorites:


deviantArt is the most popular and well-known artistic community on the web. With new designers signing up every day combined with an extremely active and helpful community, both illustrators, creative writers and photographers alike can now share their latest works while simultaneously providing critiques on incoming pieces.

deviantART was created to entertain, inspire, and empower the artist in all of us. Founded in August 2000, deviantART is the largest online social network for artists and art enthusiasts with over 13 million registered members, attracting 35 million unique visitors per month.

Not everything you find on deviantART will be artistic gold as the network definitely attracts users both amateur and professional, but they do have some very helpful sorting features that allow you to view the most popular pieces on the site. Well worth a look!

Behance Network

Behance prides itself on being “the leading platform for creative professionals”, and after skimming briefly through their existing network, it is obvious why. Users on Behance can offer their work in the form of detailed and customizable projects that allow them to strengthen the craft of presentation. By giving creative professionals the space to further define and personalize the way their projects are viewed, it improves the visual portfolio for artists looking to move forward with their work.

For too long, creative professionals have suffered from inefficiency, disorganization and careers at the mercy of bureaucracy. Behance aims to put control into the hands of creative professionals, so the best ideas can see the light of day.

For artists looking to showcase their pieces and grow their professional network, Behance is the perfect place to start. Don’t expect recognition for amateur or shoddy work, however — you’re better off with deviantART when looking to grow from a beginner’s level.


Tumblr provides a completely customizable and easy to use platform for bloggers and artists alike. Though this particular resource isn’t entirely artist or illustration specific, many of you have cited Tumblr as one of your favorite sources for inspiration online.

Tumblr lets you effortlessly share anything. Post text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos, from your browser, phone, desktop, email, or wherever you happen to be. You can customize everything, from colors, to your theme’s HTML. And we’re here to help!

Being a fairly active Tumblr user myself, I can vouch for the inspiration-centric community that uses this platform. On Tumblr, I follow multiple blogs with various themes ranging anywhere from interior design, to fashion or creative writing. The majority of Tumblr is focused on posting inspirational photos and images that spark interest in the viewer, thus making it easier for you to discover new artists or sources of inspiration in the creative space. To get started, visit ‘spotlights’ on artists, illustrators and design.

We Heart It

We Heart It allows its community to browse through a constantly updated photo gallery where users can “heart” the images that they discover through the service and add them to a list of bookmarked favorites.

There are over 10 million images on We Heart It. You can search for your favorite topics and heart the images you like the most. Just move your mouse over the image and click on the heart icon. When it fills up, you hearted it!

We Heart It is definitely a site popular among Tumblr users with an interest specifically in style or fashion illustration. I have, on more than one occasion, seen images pirated directly from We Heart It with sources uncredited. While this is obviously just bad practice, it is also a testament to how popular and inspirational images on We Heart It can be. In fact, it is nearly impossible for me to scroll through Tumblr without recognizing some sort of beautiful photo or shot from this service.


Have you ever found yourself right clicking and saving images you find on the web to your desktop? For some, regularly saving folders full of inspirational images (or whatever other pictures one might find worthy of saving online) is part of the routine. What if I were to tell you that VisualizeUs has eliminated the need to save photos and waste disk space all together?

Sometimes you are looking through pictures and one of them catches your eye. You know you want to remember it and be able to look at it again in the future, but it’s not that easy: downloading to your hard disk is as usual as bookmaking the website in the usual way.

This is where VisualizeUs changes the rules. Within two clicks, you can quote the image reference in your account, and easily look at it whenever you want to, just as your new favorite picture deserves. All without thinking about the computer you stored it in: always online, always available.

This service is social bookmarking for pictures. Free to join, you are able discover and follow users who share inspiring images and illustrations in line with your personal tastes, while also bookmarking your favorite visuals across the web. I will say, however, that the community is a bit protective when it comes to more explicit content sharing, so do take care with what you share. is an illustration specific web community with an enormous talent base full of intermediate and experienced creative professionals.

By providing a comprehensive forum where artists can showcase their galleries for portfolio reviews and critiques, bridges the gap between users looking to create peer to peer connections with individuals of similar interest.

The quality of work featured on this resource is incredible, as most artists using this service are looking to land jobs in the creative industry. Here, they can receive advice from both well established professionals, as well as from freelancers and commission-based artists.

For sites similar to, check out, and cgtalk.

Artist Blogs

If you already have a list of favorite artists that you follow and love, try subscribing to their blog RSS feeds. Often times, artists like James Jean or Audrey Kawasaki will share and discuss the process behind their work, even revealing secrets of the trade that can help to improve your own style. One of the best ways to feel inspired is by viewing the creative process of someone whose work you respect and admire.

There are also general blogs online that regularly report on all of the artists or inspirational sources you should already be following. These blogs make it easier for you to discover new and underground creative sites that you may not have been aware of before. Escape From Illustration Island and Drawn are only two examples of illustration based blogs that you might want to keep an eye on.

Inspiration can sometimes come from the most random of sources and I am definitely not suggesting that these are the only places capable of giving your creative juices an encouraging squeeze. Fortunately, The Next Web readers are a rather resourceful group of Internet users able to dig up more (and maybe even better) sites than those that I’ve listed.

What do you think? Has this article helped you discover anything new, or have I missed any of your favorites? Let me know!